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Mormons’ clean-up day will help Island Bay, Porirua, and the Hutt Valley

Press Release – Church of Latter Day Saints
Chainsaws will be buzzing, water blasters hissing, and weed eaters chomping through scrub, across New Zealand this Saturday. But local communities won’t pay a cent. The voluntary work is all part of the hugely popular Mormon Helping Hands Day.

This year is the 4th annual cleanup campaign. Volunteers from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be out in force across the country donating between 15,000 ¬ 20,000 hours of their time to work in their communities. Their bright yellow vests will dot parks, reserves, schools and churches as they serve, often in conjunction with local M.P.s and mayors.

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown worked with Mormon Helping Hands in a planting project last year. The Mayor selected their current project – beautifying the Tawatawa reserve in Island Bay ¬ and will kick start their morning. Over 200 Helping Hands volunteers will work in conjunction with the Southern Environment Association and City Council Rangers to spread mulch, clear weeds and build trails. The reserve, encompassing a wetland, is a recreational area used by Wellingtonians to walk dogs, observe wildlife and hike.

Past Wellington projects have seen 280 Mormon Helping Hands volunteers give Ridgway School a makeover, then return to plant the adjoining Vogelmorn Park. They¹ve also worked with the Wellington Activity Centre, Women¹s Refuge, Wellington Night Shelter, The Wellington Soup Kitchen (Suzanne Aubert Centre of Compassion), Neonatal Intensive Care unit, with Wellington City Council at Central Park and with Breast Cancer patients.

Porirua Mormon Helping Hands will team with Porirua City Council, Keep Porirua Beautiful, and local residents to beautify and develop Bothamley Park in Porirua East. They will be erecting a picnic table and park benches, maintaining the walking track, repairing a bridge and cleaning up litter throughout the area.

Tania Torea, Porirua Director of Public Affairs for the Church, says, ³It¹s great to work together as a community and improve the park for local residents. Adding a picnic table and benches will encourage people to spend more time here. Improving tracks to eliminate mud in winter will encourage more walkers.²

Other Porirua projects have included 120 people working at Mana College last year, beach cleanups, work with Porirua Relay for Life, local food banks and Women¹s Refuge.

Lower Hutt Graffiti has been a growing problem in the Hutt Valley and the Hutt City Council saw an opportunity to address the issue when they were approached by Helping Hands. Council staff have worked closely with Mormon Helping Hands to identify seven sites that will be painted to eradicate graffiti. Mayor Ray Wallace will start the project at the Church¹s local chapel then move onsite with the work teams. Past projects in Hutt Valley have included painting the Upper Hutt Railway station, cleaning up 4 km of riverbank on the Hutt River, and tree planting.

Palmerston North Mormon Helping Hands volunteers in Palmerston North have decided to utilise this opportunity to raise funds for Christchurch by holding three carwashes in the city. Donations for Canterbury will be collected while they clean residents¹ cars. Past projects in Palmerston have included work with Methodist Services restoring furniture and sorting 15 tonnes of clothing as well as work with local food banks.

Foxton Foxton recently completed their project a week early, at Foxton Primary School, Te Kura O Awahou. 24 Mormon Helping Hands volunteers from the area painted, weeded, created teaching resources and performed general maintenance last weekend.

Principal Ani Rauhihi opened the project and welcomed the team. Local Foxton Branch President of the Church, Gary Patchett, said, ³I was very pleased with the turnout and the amount of work accomplished. It¹s been a great day for us and the school.²

Mormon Helping Hands groups will be involved in additional projects in main cities in New Zealand as well as in many provincial areas. Throughout the year they also give service in their communities on a smaller scale, working with local agencies and councils to improve their environments and reach out to those who need help.

The Mormon Helping Hands program is a worldwide service initiative of the Church and is just one part of the Church¹s overall welfare and humanitarian program.

³Church members around the world donate nearly a million days of service per year to manage the Church¹s water, hygiene and vaccination initiatives and have given over a billion dollars in monetary and in-kind donations over the last 20 years,² according to the Church¹s National Director of Public Affairs, Anthony Wilson.

The worldwide humanitarian aid program of the Church provides disaster relief and other humanitarian services for families in need throughout the world, irrespective of their nationality, race or religion.

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